We have Åsa Tricosa joining us today! You may have seen her pattern Non Troppo floating around on Ravelry lately – understandably so as it’s a beautiful 2+ color shawl! Semele, Tiong Bahru, Simple Ziggurat, and Mysteriosa MKAL are some of her most popular patterns as well.
Loopy: Thanks so much for joining us today! How long have you been a knitter and who taught you to knit?
Åsa: Knitting and knitting off piste – making stuff up – has been a constant companion since from the time I could walk. Almost. Like many lifelong knitters I was taught by my crafty and patient “mormor” (Swedish for grandmother). She was also meticulous and precise. Which I am too. When it comes to knitting. Only.
Loopy: We all have things we’re more meticulous about! What is your favorite type of item to knit?
Åsa: Unsurprisingly, Ziggurat sweaters. I get a kick out of the first few steps each time I cast on; to see the sculpted shoulders take shape is exciting each and every time. So… I tend to cast on a lot. I’m a bit obsessed by sweaters as I’m working out the final bits on my Ziggurat Book. It’s a lot more work than I had ever imagined…
I do long to get back to some shawl ideas that have been percolating in my mind for a good long while, too. Oh, and gloves! I love gloves. So neat, so quick, so many possibilities for playing around.
Loopy: Shawls, gloves, and sweaters – we can get behind all of those things. What is the most challenging thing that you have knit to date?
Åsa: The Ja Ja Jacket Because I had to learn double-knitting on the spot and to invent suitable buttonholes through double knitted fabric as I went along. And I really love this jacket – wherefore I have another version of it up my sleeve. ATB (After The Book).
Loopy: Impressive you learned as you designed! When did you start designing, and what spurred that interest?
Åsa: Designing or making stuff up? Making stuff up was always a part of knitting. And coming up with solutions of my own — they may very well have already existed but I just like figuring things out and still do, such as finding sneaky ways of starting or ending things on a sideways shawl. I think many knitters do just that. If by “designing” we mean producing graded, edited and test-knitted patterns for fellow knitters to use, well, that snuck into my life while I was spending years not finishing a PhD. And then it simply took over.
Loopy: I love that you were always making stuff up. Do you have a favorite pattern that you’ve designed?
Åsa: Difficult to pick just one. Sorry! Simple Ziggurat for sure. Stripes Ahoy! too. The sweater I wear most of them all is Filijokus — not knitted by as many knitters as some of my other patterns, but Filijokus just fits me perfectly and is knitted in a somewhat lofty yarn and I love wearing it. I need to knit another one or two…
Non troppo wrap for its simple asymmetry and strrrrripes.
For fun and for kids I love the not very popular Marja-Stina — the details are just so… perfect, if I may say so. It can be a bit finicky but one can choose an easier more plain option, too. There’s a DK version called Stina that is available against a voluntary donation to p/hop (Pennies per hour of pleasure — the proceeds go to MSF/Doctors without Borders).
Oh and my gloves, too! Io and Mio gloves. Shawls… Mysteriosa. Semele, one of my very first is still my most popular design — maybe it’s telling me something… But really, just now it’s Funnel Thing – a casual sweater in a heavy lace weight yarn from The Uncommon Thread It’s not out yet. It will feature in my Ziggurat Book.
Loopy: All of those look beautiful! What is your favorite part of designing? And your not-so-favorite part?
Åsa: May I list three favourite things, please? I get a kick out of fellow knitters’ interpretations of my designs, especially when they’ve added a detail from another pattern or from their own head. Their clever colour choices always make me want to knit more versions for myself, too. And I looooove if one of my tutorials or patterns have helped a knitter discover a new or different way of doing something. Or that they now can knit sweaters that properly fit them.
So, what spurs me is figuring out little details, such as built-in single-layer pockets or an integrated tuck, working out ways to not have to cut or join new yarn more than absolutely necessary. Sometimes a tiny adjustment can bring utter joy.
Playing with colours and textures – the fantastic yarns dyed by incredible women bring me joy. Every day. I can’t quite believe I get to do this every day. Such a luxury. One of my favourite collaborations is the ongoing one with the dyeing genius (and very funny) Claudia of Rohrspatz & Wollmeise.
Not so favourite: Finding typos and little errors after several rounds of tech edit, proofreading, test knitting. That said, as designing is often a rather lonely pursuit I like collaborating with tech editors and translators. Other collaborators who are invaluable not only for making the patterns better but keeping me sane are the test and sample knitters. Without whom my work would never be up to scratch.
Loopy: I think most of us have pure joy when we have less yarn to weave in 🙂 Do you have other jobs outside of pattern designing?
Åsa: Nope. But I do know how to do many things so in pinch I’d probably still be able to be a somewhat useful waitress, copy editor, index creator. Or not…
Loopy: Always nice to have an option B if needed! But we’ll keep you busy designing for as long as possible Do you do this business full-time, or on the side? And is that hard?
Åsa: More than full time. And yes it is hard. And fun. I’d love to say I’m a successful, independent crafter and designer who supports myself just with my designs, but that would be a big lie. I have the luxury of sharing my life with a generous partner.
Loopy: We’re all glad you’re able to design so much. Does anyone else in your family knit?
Åsa: Not anymore. My mother would if she could but her hands are rendered unusable for most things by arthritis. My man is not a knitter, no. (My family lives in Sweden. My man is Danish. We live in Germany — and have lived in the US, the UK, and here and there.)
Loopy: It’s fun you’ve been able to experience different cultures. Are there other hobbies that you enjoy?
Åsa: Baking bread. I take my sourdough starter along to Scotland during our stays there… Reading. And yes, I can knit (plain) and read at the same time. Luckily. Or were you talking of hobbies as in making things? I’m firmly avoiding any ventures into other tempting textile or fibre crafts – and there are some that are seriously tempting. I’d love to learn book binding, too. But there aren’t even enough hours in the day for knitting.
Loopy: So true. What would be your favorite way to spend a day off?
Åsa: Baroque music, opera — listening to, not singing. Classical concert. Good eats. Stadtbummeln (strolling through town, any town or city) with H. I’d fit in some frivolous knitting, too.
Loopy: Morning or Night person? Coffee or Tea? English or Continental? Solids or Multicolors? 🙂
Åsa: Night. A glass of leggy Willamette Pinot Noir — oh, in the morning? Then, Earl Grey. (OK, so I never drink Willamette Pinot Noir anymore as it is from Oregon and I now live in a culinary desert on another continent, but if I could, I would). Continental. Semi-solids
Loopy: Anything else you’d like to add?
Åsa: Knit with abandon!
Åsa has given us a 20% coupon code good from today until December 8! You can use the code theloopyewe for a discount on a single pattern from Åsa’s Designs.
I met Asa while we were both living in Singapore for a short time. She came to our knitting group. She is just a joy to be around. I just love her designs. Her patterns are very well written IMHO. What a treat to see her featured on your site.
Asa is my favorite designer – love all her things!!
Thank you Åsa and The Loopy Ewe for the 20% off coupon code. I purchased the pattern Semele. It is a lovely shawl.
Åsa is a wonderful person and designer. We have “known” each other for mumbly years. Her Ziggurat sweaters and pattern writing are genius. So happy that you had a chance for an interview and to share her work with all of us.